Can the US slow down the rise of China?

16:25, October 12, 2010      

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Zheng Xuan, an influential Confucian scholar of the Han Dynasty, once wrote, "Once the key link is grasped, everything falls into place." The United States also knows this and has been adhering to this principle when making policies toward China and promoting its global hegemony after the Cold War.

So what is the key link of the U.S. strategy towards China? It is guiding China's development direction and grasping the orientation of China.

The U.S. strategy with regard to China had two characteristics during the Cold War. The first was to tear apart the China-Soviet Union alliance, and the second, to conduct military containment so China cannot enhance its military influence in the international arena.

However, the United States had to rethink and adjust its China strategy after the end of the Cold War mainly because it realized that containing China had become an impossible mission.

In terms of military, China's national defense capabilities have been constantly strengthened since its founding. The share of domestically-developed weapons in the nation's high-tech weaponry is growing rapidly, and the weapons displayed in the large military parade in 2009 were all independently developed by China.

The Chinese military now has 16 times the amount of domestically-developed weapons with intellectual property rights compared to 10 years ago. Nothing can stop China's military power from playing an active role in global affairs.

Economically, China successfully withstood the tests of the Asian financial crisis in 1997 and the global financial crisis in 2008. Its ability to resist international economic risks and foreign economic interference has also been greatly enhanced. It was internationally recognized in early August 2010 that China has already become the world's second largest economy.

Seeing the policy of containment ineffective, the United States had no choice but to attempt to guide the direction of China's development in hopes of slowing it. The main theme of the U.S. strategy towards China will be interfering with China's development in many different fields and distracting China from enhancing its national strength. At present, the United States mainly takes the following measures:

First, it maintains the existence of the "Taiwan problem" and a certain level of military balance between the mainland and Taiwan through arms sales to Taiwan.

Second, it instigates countries that have border disputes with China to constantly provoke incidents. Vietnam, India and Japan have repeatedly expressed tough stances toward China since 2010 because of the support of the United States.

Third, it launches military exercises of various scales and forms around China — especially China's offshore areas — to create a tense atmosphere.

Fourth, it strengthens military ties with China's neighboring countries and provides them with advanced weapons and equipment to enhance the military capabilities of these countries.

Fifth, it represses China's military development together with Russia. Currently, there are frequent military exchanges between the United States and Russia, and Russia also expresses its interests in purchasing U.S. military technologies.

It is highly possible that the United States and Russia will achieve an "exchange of needs" in the aspect of high-tech military technologies once the export of advanced military technologies from the United States to Russia becomes a reality. This will further widen the U.S. military advantage over China.

Sixth, the United States disrupts China's peripheral security under the banner of "counter nuclear terrorism." Currently, one of the prominent features of the Obama administration’s military strategy is to shift its focus from countering unconventional terrorism to nuclear terrorism. The United States strongly promotes the concept of a "nuclear-free world." It occupies the international moral high ground and keeps on bringing high pressure on China's periphery under the banner of "nuclear disarmament."

In a word, grasping China is an important part of the U.S. global strategy, and guiding China’s development is the current strategic choice of the United States.

However, we must also see that the U.S. strategy towards China is only based on grasping China to prevent it from creating obstacles or threats to U.S. hegemony. Therefore, our strategy toward the United States should not be suspicious, and we should not regard every move of the United States as directly against China. Meanwhile, we should also carefully study and judge U.S. actions to correctly formulate our own development strategies.

The author Han Xudong is a professor from the PLA University of National Defense of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, translated by People's Daily Online


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